How can we build a workforce for our digital future?

Digital workforce 2018 UN

UNDP
In the Arab region, average participation of young women in the workforce is 24 per cent.

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Greg Caimi, Partner, Bain & Company & Ouriel LancryPartner, Bain & Company

At a recent World Economic Forum workshop on the topic of successful digital transformation, a group of executives passionately debated the challenges of managing their most important resource – human capital. The participants ranged from major global retailers employing a wide range of people (including store clerks and AI gurus) to Silicon Valley tech companies and a start-up about to open its new European headquarters.

All face the challenge of building a digital-ready workforce in an ever-evolving business environment. To do that, they agreed, any company must get two things right. First, they have to fill a clear talent gap in technological skills vital to digital strategy. Second, they must develop the 80% of their workforce already in place today who will still be there tomorrow.

The war for talent is not new, but the workplace is changing. Employees today increasingly demand more than a paycheck. They want to believe that their work matters; they want to be part of a culture that fits their values; and they want to be engaged and inspired by their jobs. At the same time, companies have changing needs as well. They want to operate in a more nimble fashion with a more fluid, flexible workforce, and they need employees with contemporary skills. Talent strategy needs to balance the needs of both employees and employers.

Successfully acquiring, developing and deploying talent starts with a strategy that dictates what work will be done in-house (rather than by partners), how it will get done (whether by people or technology) and by whom (whether full-time employees, contractors or partners). Next, companies need to create a compelling value proposition for talent that includes training in new skills as well as development opportunities – a New Deal for Talent. This new deal isn’t just about training and development, but also about rewards: financial, developmental, and rewards tied to mission and purpose. From there, firms can design modern talent management systems that smartly integrate digital tools to identify, recruit, engage, compensate, deploy and develop talent.

The group had a robust discussion about what motivates modern employees and what type of “deal” is required to attract and retain them. To appeal to the best and brightest, do you need to offer nap rooms, free lunches, a foosball table and a corporate mission to save the world, or will a steady paycheck suffice? The answer likely varies significantly by sector, generation and skillset, but some themes are emerging.

Today’s employees still value security, predictability and status, but the form those attributes take is changing. Security becomes less about lifelong employment and more about lifelong employability, achieved through constant acquisition of new and relevant skills. Employees are not giving up predictability, but their timelines are shortening and their willingness to experiment in different roles and functions is growing. They do still value status in the form of fair compensation, benefits and rewards for out-performance. But in today’s flatter organizations, that status often comes in the form of roles of increasing responsibility and impact, rather than a march through a hierarchy of job titles.

These changes create a new set of challenges and opportunities for employers. A renewed emphasis on development will likely entail investments in training, apprenticeship and cross-functional rotations. Employers will benefit from creating strong, clear links between employees’ work and the purpose it serves. New systems reflecting these changes will need to be developed. Pay, for example, was historically keyed to factors such as revenue growth and profitability targets, based on what both an individual and team had accomplished. Now different metrics must capture an individual’s contribution to a cross-functional group, or, in some cases, to non-quantifiable goals that span the entire company.

A big idea emerged from the conversation: increasingly, companies must understand that the needs of employees are not all the same. Employee ‘segments’ likely exist in the same way that customer segments do.

In the customer realm, we have moved to mass personalization, down to the individual “segment of one”. We anticipate customer needs, rather than simply react to them. Why can’t we apply the same logic to our employees? Can we identify unique needs among our employees and serve them differently, offering individualized learning plans, tailored recruiting messages and even personalized rewards? Can we apply the same types of data and tools we use with our customers to our internal talent?

 

HR executives have already begun to move toward this nuanced approach. Recent research led by our Bain colleague Michael Heric found some using sophisticated digital tools to fine-tune their understanding of each employee and improve career management, career planning and performance measurement.

In talent acquisition, digital technologies can personalize the experience of recruiters and candidates while expanding the talent pool, filtering for candidates with the right skills more efficiently and effectively, and helping identify future talent needs earlier. In workforce planning, technology helps identify ideal team compositions and enhance collaboration among team members. In performance management and motivation, it helps identify the metrics that truly matter for performance, and supports continuous feedback among employees, their peers and supervisors. In the realm of learning, it pinpoints training needs earlier, and improves reach, engagement and information retention through hands-on, accessible methods.

Early results of applying data-driven insights to talent management are strong. Studies have found machine learning can be up to 17 times more accurate than other methods at predicting who will resign, for example. Natural language processing has helped recruiters at Johnson & Johnson, Atlassian, Twitter and other companies improve the quality of their job listings in order to enhance the inclusivity of their workplaces. Google’s dedicated People Analytics team is working on a wide range of challenges, from determining the best size and shape of a given department to reducing defections after maternity leave.

Companies creating a digital-ready workforce may find that the digital technologies that have forced them to consider new approaches to talent management become an important part of how they solve the talent challenge. We have only scratched the surface of what is possible.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

5 ways for businesses to walk the talk on gender equality

France is building a village for people with Alzheimer’s

These are the 4 most likely scenarios for the future of energy

Coronavirus spread now a global emergency declares World Health Organization

Mali peace process in a ‘critical phase’, says head of UN Mission

What kind of action on social justice should we expect from companies in the future?

Fit for Future platform selects EU initiatives for simplification and modernisation

Mexico: Helping refugees go into business, a ‘win-win situation’, says UNHCR’s Grandi

ILO’s Bureau for Employers´Activities to publish new study on women in business and management

Finland has just published everyone’s taxes on ‘National Jealousy Day’

Commission presents first reflections on building a strong social Europe for just transitions

A Sting Exclusive: “Paris is the moment for climate justice”, Swedish MEP Linnéa Engström claims from Brussels

How digital can transform healthcare in Asia for millions of people

Recession: the best argument for growth

European Union signs aviation agreement with the Republic of Korea

Is co-living an answer to the affordable housing crisis?

Businesses, governments and consumers to implement a more climate-friendly approach to #BeatPlasticPollution on World Environment Day 2018

Bold, innovative measures for refugees and their hosts sought, at first ever Global Forum

Are we sleepwalking into a new global crisis?

International Women’s Day 2019: more equality, but change is too slow

EU institutions agree on priorities for coming years: A common agenda for our recovery and renewed vitality

Amid ‘volatile’ environment, UN mission chief urges Iraqi leaders to ‘listen to the voice of the people’

India and the US: 5 ways the countries compare

The EU heads of State and Government about the result of the European Elections 2019

Global South cooperation ‘vital’ to climate change fight, development, Guterres tells historic Buenos Aires summit

Suicide in postpartum depression

As Libya talks resume in Geneva, UN negotiator seeks to overcome sticking points

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Climate emergency, call to support breastfeeding, rising political heat and new investigation board for Syria

Humanity ‘at a crossroads’ as damage to planet poses growing risk to health, UN environment agency warns

Australian solar could power Singapore within a decade

Destabilizing Lebanon after burning Syria; plotting putsch at home: King and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

From Model T to EV: a short history of motor vehicle manufacturing

EU mobilises €9 million to tackle the food crisis in Haiti

Will Cameron succeed in keeping UK inside the EU and reverse the present economic downturn?

It ain’t over until Google says it’s over

Humanitarian Aid 2016: The needs, the highlights, the crisis and the relief

A money laundering case on Vatican Bank’s road to renovation

We need to talk: UN gears up for 75th anniversary with Global Conversations

NASA is recruiting new astronauts – this is what it takes to apply

3 ways to fight short-termism and relaunch Europe

Humanitarian action: New outlook for EU’s global aid delivery challenged by COVID-19

European Youth, quo vadis?

MEPs urge the EU to lead the way to net-zero emissions by 2050

Coronavirus: Commission issues guidelines on testing

This farmer is saving the jungle by growing food in it

Brussels to tear down the trade wall with Mexico as opposed to Trump’s “walls”

Science leads the response to COVID-19. These 25 scientists are tackling the other global challenges

Half of the world’s population lack access to essential health services – are we doing enough?

Permafrost is thawing so fast it’s gouging holes in the Arctic

Does the EU want GMOs and meat with hormones from the US?

Telemental health care in times of psychological instability: call 188

Climate change and health: a much needed multidisciplinary approach

Commission presents EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements for signature and conclusion

EU Emissions Trading System does not hurt firms’ profitability

“A divided Europe is not in China’s interests”, Ambassador Zhang of the Chinese Mission to EU welcomes Brussels

EU/Africa, Caribbean and Pacific: towards which partnership?

Commission welcomes political agreement on InvestEU

The ‘ASEAN way’: what it is, how it must change for the future

EU’s judicial cooperation arm, Eurojust, to become more effective with new rules

We can feed the world in a sustainable way, but we need to act now

More Stings?

Advertising

Trackbacks

  1. […] of creating the continent’s new digital workforce to keep up with these changes. Right now, 73% of employers are facing a skills shortage in their industry. With more than 50% of existing jobs at risk for […]

  2. […] of creating the continent’s new digital workforce to keep up with these changes. Right now, 73% of employers are facing a skills shortage in their industry. With more than 50% of existing jobs at risk for […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s